My husband Bill and I arrived safely in Blantyre, Malawi yesterday afternoon. We’d had very little sleep on the 23 hour journey, so we were very tired but all our luggage had arrived with us, which was a huge relief.
We woke up completely refreshed this morning, and spent the day finding our bearings, going shopping for supplies, and meeting up with our friend Mary Boloweza, who is my contact for a lot of the workshops.
The scenery is really beautiful, with a greenness that might come as a shock to some people. Blantyre is 3000ft above sea level (correct me if I’m wrong), and has a rainy season from mid-October to February. At this time of year the countryside is still lush but will soon start to die back. I chose to come here at this time of year so the greenness will give my Malawian photos a similar feel to my Scottish ones, and make it more of a challenge to distinguish between them.
Today we were out of the apartment at 7:15am to travel to Chikwawa Primary School down in the Rift Valley for 9 o clock. Chikwawa Primary School is twinned with Auchtermuchty Primary School, and I met the deputy head teacher, Monica Nakoma in Fife last December when she came to Scotland on an exchange visit to Auchtermuchty School. It was wonderful to see Monica again, and visit her school. The children were fantastic, with the younger ones even yelling with delight and excitement upon seeing us.
Everyone made us feel very welcome, and the etching workshops went really well. I was really impressed with the drawing ability and creativity of the class. However, this doesn’t mean there weren’t any problems. From our driver, I was expecting the children to have a much greater grasp of English than they had, and having to have everything I said translated made me nervous, and forgetful of my lines, causing a bit of confusion. I’m going back to teach another workshop there tomorrow, but I’ll know what to expect, and will teach better.
I taught my second workshop today, which went a lot better. There was less confusion, and I was a lot less tired afterwards. The only problem I have is that some of the kids don't seem to understand that I want them to etch what they love most about their county, and I'm getting a lot of pictures of snakes! I guess that they are easy to draw for the less able children, because some children get the idea immediately and are giving me some amazing pictures. I've got to be a little clearer in want I want from them, (though everything has to be translated which doesn't help)